Did This New Hampshire Woman Take Part in the Rwandan Genocide?

Ahishakiye was still on the stand when McAuliffe ordered a mid-morning break. In the main hallway outside the courtroom, I met a lawyer who had come to New Hampshire to observe the trial. She was considering writing an article about the case in a law journal.

As we talked, I saw that Munyenyezi was standing only a few feet from us. She had been held without bail for nearly two years in a county jail until last year's mistrial, and had been released to house arrest, pending the retrial verdict. She stood quietly.

The lawyer told me she was curious about the treatment of political "participation." How would McAuliffe write his instructions to the jury? Would they be told that wearing the clothing of a political party was to be considered as political affiliation?

Such factors would influence the jury's application of American law. But before that, the New Englanders would have to weigh the certainty of the Kinyardwanda words of accusation and defense they'd heard about Munyenyezi. Would jurors be able to agree that amid the translation of time and culture in the New Hampshire courtroom some truth had been established beyond a reasonable doubt?

Attorneys are scheduled to make their closing arguments today. Jurors may deliver a verdict as early as tomorrow.

Update: On Thursday, February 21, the jury found Munyenyezi guilty. She was immediately stripped of her U.S. citizenship and taken into custody. Sentencing has been set for June. Her attorneys have said they plan to appeal.

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Tom Haines is a journalist and an assistant professor of English at the University of New Hampshire.

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